What You Need To Know for #CollegeGameDay This Weekend

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Since the days of Agamemnon – the Trojans always lose

1. More ‘Cutty’ Sark?

He is who we thought he was!  At least some of us thought that.  Others thought that he would be more Pete than Lane.  They never listened when the handful of us told USC fan, this guy is not your answer to returned-glory.  The Trojans lost again, at home, and to Sark’s former program that now employs Chris Petersen.  Of the two coaches, who would USC fan rather have now?

The game started in the twilight (omen?) with a sparse crowd that watched a double-digit underdog upset USC 17-12.  The Huskies of U-Dub looked enthusiastic and the USC offense never just ran the DAMN ball.  Does Steve drink on the sidelines?  How does Tre Madden average 7.1 ypc and Ronald Jones II averages 8.1 ypc, but you only give them the ball 25 times?  Reads like a repeat of the game against Texas in the Rose Bowl a few years ago when he was the O.C.

SoCal fan had a lot of Hot Takes after the game and they are correct – he is doing turrable, (said ina Charles Barkley voice) with all this perceived talent.  We have seen all we need to see of ‘Cutty’ Sark – from his sophmorish behavior at a pep rally, to choosing to throw the ball on second and third downs – to then settle for a 45yd FG on 4th down, to trying to get the crowd fired up on the sideline – that’s what those nice girls in the white sweaters are for!  Sark will not make it at USC and the program will sink to pre-Pete levels.  Although, I bet Terry Saban wouldn’t mind living in Palm Springs – it beats Tuscaloosa!

2. You Better You Bet

In year’s past, all we would hear about this week, is OU v. Texas, or Miami v. FSU – but right now I’d hedge that more people are interested in Northwestern-Michigan, and Utah-California – at least I am, along with a few other games that are slated this Saturday – all times EASTERN.  So Let’s Get It On!

Morning Games

  • (10) Oklahoma v. Texas (@Dallas) noon ABC – OU -17.5
    • There is no reason for Texas to keep this close. Oklahoma is a legitimate Big 12 contender. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is averaging 10.2 yards per attempt, proving to be an effective fit for Lincoln Riley’s system, but also a dangerous improviser. Beyond struggles against Tulsa’s Baylor-influenced offense, Oklahoma’s defense has been excellent too. Simply put, the Sooners are a much better, more complete team than the Longhorns. Texas’ offense is a mess, its defense ranks 110th in yards per play and the team is suffering social media meltdowns.
      • Oklahoma 41 – Texas 14—94.85%

  • Maryland @ (1) Ohio St – noon Big (not)10 Network – OSU -33
    • Ohio State may put an end to the Randy Edsall era. On Thursday, 247Sports reported that Maryland is planning to fire Edsall, perhaps after the Terrapins inevitably lose to the Buckeyes. They have a bye week next, so the timing would make sense if they’re planning to cut him loose during the season. Maryland has been awful thus far, getting off to a 2-3 start with a blowout home loss to Bowling Green, and a total of six points scored the last two weeks in embarrassments at the hands of West Virginia and Michigan.
      • Maryland 7 – Ohio St 39—93.3%

  • Illinois @ (22) Iowa – noon ESPN2 – Iowa -11
    • Raise your hand if you had these teams a combined 9-1 at this stage in the season. The Fighting Illini will likely fall off a bit, but Iowa might be the best bet in the Big Ten West right now. The Hawkeyes won 10-6 on the road vs. Wisconsin last week, and they play Maryland and Indiana in their two cross-division games. They won that game despite the fact that quarterback C.J. Beathard, who was sharp in September, completed just 9 of 21 passes for 77 yards. The Hawkeyes are doing what the best Kirk Ferentz teams have done.
      • Illinois 16.45 – Iowa 27.55—73.9%

  • No. 3 Baylor at Kansas – noon, FS1 – Kansas +44
    • Last week, Baylor scored seven first-half touchdowns in a 63-35 win over Texas Tech. The 63 total points merely matched the Bears’ season average. Kansas, meanwhile, is well on its way to losing every game this season. It can reasonably be assumed that Baylor can name its point total in this one. It’s a 44-point favorite on the road in a conference game, and in the last three matchups Baylor has won by a total score of 160-42. Unless Baylor shows up completely uninterested, this will get out of hand in a hurry.
      • Baylor 54.1 – Kansas 16.3—97.05%

  • Indiana at Penn State – Noon, ESPN – PSU -6.5
    • The Hoosiers, who have never won in Happy Valley, and the Nittany Lions are a combined 8-2, but their wins have come against Southern Illinois, FIU, Western Kentucky, Wake Forest, Buffalo, Rutgers, San Diego State and Army. There hasn’t been a whole lot proved here, with Indiana coming close to an upset of Ohio State and Penn State’s offense, despite the presence of touted quarterback Christian Hackenberg, seeming to rely solely on the health of stud freshman tailback Saquon Barkley, who averages nearly nine yards per carry despite playing behind a suspect O-line.
      • Indiana 20.35 – PennSt 30.3—73.15%

Afternoon

  • No. 13 Northwestern at No. 18 Michigan – 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network – Michigan -7.5
    • Last year, Michigan beat Northwestern in the infamous M00N game. It took more than 38 minutes for either team to score. They each turned the ball over three times. And Northwestern out-gained Michigan 264 to 256. There was a lot of bad offense, between two mediocre teams. This year … well, the result could be very similar, even if both teams have now played their way into the top 20. That’s because both defenses have been excellent.
      • Northwestern 13.15 – Michigan 20.9—67.25%

  • Georgia Tech at No. 6 Clemson – 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2 – Clemson -7
    • This would seem to be the perfect opportunity for Clemson to fall victim to a trap or hangover or whatever you want to call it. The Tigers just vaulted into the playoff frontrunner discussion by holding off Notre Dame for a key win at home. Now, they welcome in Georgia Tech and its option offense. This was supposed to be one of the biggest games of the ACC season, but Georgia Tech has faltered, losing to Notre Dame, Duke and North Carolina for a puzzling three-game losing streak.
      • GaTech 16.95 – Clemson 32.05—82.35%

  • No. 19 Georgia at Tennessee – 3:30 p.m., CBS – Tennessee +3
    • The same thing could be said about last week’s Tennessee-Arkansas game: Both of these teams desperately need a win here. Georgia needs to rebound from its embarrassment at the hands of Alabama. Tennessee, after losing yet another close game to Arkansas, has to finally win a big game. The Vols, expected to be SEC East contenders, are sitting at 2-3, and now both teams are staring up at Florida in the division. Tennessee has had a chance to win every game, while Georgia simply failed to show-up against Alabama last week.
      • Georgia 28.15 – Tennessee 26.05—61.95%

  • South Carolina at No. 7 LSU – 3:30 p.m., ESPN – LSU -15
    • This game was supposed to be played at South Carolina, but the devastating flooding there has forced a move to Baton Rouge. LSU is admirably doing everything it can to make South Carolina feel at home, with all the revenue going to South Carolina.
      • SCAR 18.25 – LSU 38.6—87.95%

  • Navy at No. 15 Notre Dame – 3:30 p.m., NBC – Notre Dame -14.5
    • Notre Dame has to respond to a heartbreaking road loss at Clemson by stopping another option team. The Fighting Irish did it against Georgia Tech three weeks ago, and now they’ll take a shot at containing Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who is four touchdowns away from tying Montee Ball’s FBS career rushing touchdowns record. Last year, Reynolds didn’t run for a touchdown against the Irish, but Navy still pushed them in a 49-39 Notre Dame win.
      • Navy 24.1 – Notre Dame 36.95—76.65%
  • Wisconsin at Nebraska – 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2 – Nebraska -1
    • So much for this being the Big Ten West game of the year. Wisconsin can’t run without Corey Clement. Nebraska can’t stop its run of agonizing losses. What Wisconsin can do, however, is play suffocating defense. Linebacker Joe Schobert leads the nation with nine sacks, and only Alabama has moved the ball on the Badgers at all. If their defense can frustrate the inconsistent Tommy Armstrong and force Nebraska to make mistakes, the Badgers might be able to do enough to win a key game on the road and stay near the top of the division race.
      • Wisconsin 24.3 – Nebraska 24.8—57%
  • Minnesota at Purdue – 3:30 p.m., ESPNU – Purdue +3
    • Minnesota, expected by many to be a Big Ten West contender this season, has not been impressive. Its highlight thus far was holding TCU to 23 points in the opener. Since then, the Golden Gophers have beat Ohio, Kent State and Colorado State by three points each, and they’ve been blown out 27-0 by Northwestern.
      • Minnesota 26.75 – Purdue 19.8—66.05%

Prime Time

  • Miami at No. 12 Florida State – 8 p.m., ABC – FSU -9
    • Miami has become known for getting up for the Florida State game, before losing and having its season spiral out of control. Al Golden has yet to beat the rival Seminoles, and his tenure in Coral Gables appears to be careening toward its end. The Hurricanes didn’t bother to wait for the FSU game to start losing; they looked disinterested in a 34-23 loss at Cincinnati last Thursday. Florida State hasn’t exactly been impressive this season either — it won 24-16 at Wake Forest last week.
      • Miami 17.6 – FSU 35.7—86.95%

  • No. 2 TCU at Kansas State – 7:30 p.m., Fox – KState +9.5
    • Last week, Kansas State nearly beat Oklahoma State on the road despite playing most of the game with fifth-string quarterback Kody Cook, primarily a wide receiver, taking snaps because of injuries. Now, it appears that Joe Hubener is ready to return — he passed concussion tests — meaning the former walk-on should be starting at quarterback. (Cook is dealing with a shoulder injury now.) Based on all of the above, this is truly a Bill Snyder team.
      • TCU 29.85 – KState 28.9—52.65%

  • Arkansas at No. 8 Alabama – 7 p.m., ESPN – Alabama -17
    • The best bet for beating Alabama is challenging the Crimson Tide on the perimeter with tempo. This is not what Arkansas does best. The Arkansas offensive line may be big and powerful, but it’s not enough to overwhelm the Crimson Tide. And given that Jake Coker played well against Georgia and Arkansas’ defense has taken a step back from last year, this should be an opportunity for Alabama to earn another decisive win before a huge trip to Texas A&M next week.
      • Arkansas 15.1 – Alabama 39.8—93.2%

  • No. 11 Florida at Missouri – 7:30 p.m., SEC Network – Missouri +6
    • Nobody in Florida wants to ever speak of last year’s Missouri-Florida game ever again, but we’re going to have to quickly do so now. Missouri won 42-13, despite the fact that quarterback Maty Mauk went 6 of 18 for 20 yards and led the team with 38 rushing yards. Missouri won by 29 points despite the fact that it had 119 total yards. It did so because it returned a punt, kickoff, interception and fumble for touchdowns. There were many miserable losses for Florida in the Will Muschamp era, but this was one of the most miserable losses by anybody ever.
      • FU 28.4 – Mizzou 15.8—78.95%

  • No. 21 Oklahoma State at West Virginia – 7 p.m., ESPN2 – West Virginia -7
    • Oklahoma State is off to a 5-0 start, and it visits a West Virginia team that has just lost to Oklahoma by 20 and lost its best player, safety Karl Joseph, to a season-ending knee injury. Maybe this is a good opportunity for a conference road win for the Cowboys. But then again, not all 5-0 records are made equally.
      • OkSt 22.35 – WV 30.05—76.8%

  • No. 4 Michigan State at Rutgers – 8 p.m., Big Ten Network – Rutgers +14.5
    • We have reached the third and final game of the Kyle Flood suspension, and Rutgers may have star receiver Leonte Carroo back after he was reinstated this week. Maybe it will matter, because the Spartans have hardly been impressive this season, even with their win over Oregon (which has since been diminished a bit). Last week, Michigan State nearly choked away a home game against Purdue, winning just 24-21.
      • MichiganSt 40.6 – Rutgers 15.85—92.45%

  • Washington State at Oregon – 6 p.m., Pac-12 Networks – Oregon -17
    • With Vernon Adams still dealing with his broken finger, Oregon used both Jeff Lockie and Taylor Allie in last week’s win over Colorado. The Ducks were far from perfect, but they at least bounced back from the Utah debacle with a road win over the Buffaloes. They racked up 361 yards on the ground, with Royce Freeman and Taj Griffin both breaking 100 yards, and it’s likely that we’ll see a similar strategy at home against Washington State.
      • Wazzu 21.75 – Oregon 41.35—87.45%

Late night

  • No. 23 California at No. 5 Utah – 10 p.m., ESPN – Utah -7.5
    • These two are the only undefeated teams left in the Pac-12. California has the nation’s top NFL draft quarterback prospect in Jared Goff. Utah owns wins over Michigan and Oregon and has gotten improved play out of quarterback Travis Wilson, on top of its stellar defense. The Utes are unbeaten despite the fact that their defense ranks 75th in yards per play and star tailback Devontae Booker is averaging just 4.2 yards per carry, so they still have some things to prove, no matter how impressive their demolition of Oregon was, especially on the road.
      • Cal 20.2 – Utah 37.15—83.35%

  • CU at Arizona State – 10 p.m., Pac-12 Networks – ASU -15
    • After a tough September featuring a loss to Texas A&M and a blowout home loss to USC, Arizona State finally snapped out of its funk last week, upsetting UCLA on the road. Now, it returns home to face a sandwich game against the Buffaloes, before big games against Utah and Oregon. Arizona State is not above disappointing losses — last year, it lost at Oregon State a week after blowing out Notre Dame — but the Sun Devils should hopefully use the UCLA win as a springboard. This offense still lacks explosiveness, but Arizona State should be able to effectively utilize its running backs and short passing game to sustain drives against a beatable Colorado defense.
      • CU 13.15 – ASU 39.7—93.2%

Road to the College Football Playoff – The First 6 Weeks

Today we make it College Football Day! With 2 weeks left before the pageantry and tradition resume, we’re gonna give you the first 6 weeks of a week-to-week glance, at the games that could decide who makes the 2nd College Football Playoff!  The season kicks off on Thursday, September 3rd, with 19 games (all times are EASTERN).

Week 1

Ohio St(-11.5) @ Virginia Tech, 8p (Monday<9-7>) – Anyone know who starts for Ohio State? How will the 4 suspensions of Ohio St players impact the game?  Does VaTech repeat last year’s upset at home? – we’ll see

Wisconsin v Alabama(-10.5), 8p in Arlington – In neutral site openers under Nick Saban, Alabama iscropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.png 5-0 – with an average margin of victory of 19pts.  Does Alabama have a QB?  What does new coach Paul Chryst have prepared for another re-loaded Crimson Tide?

Michigan @ Utah(-6), 8:30p (Thursday) – Jim Harbaugh returns to his Alma-Mater and will be a heavily watched game.  The problem could be that despite all the pre-season pub Harbaugh got, this is still a good Utah team that beat the Wolverines in Ann Arbor last year 26-10.

  • TCU(-14) @ Minnesota, 9p (Thursday)
  • UNC v SCAR(-2.5) in Charlotte (Thursday) 6p
  • Washington @ Boise St(-10.5), 10:15p (Friday)
  • BYU @ Nebraska(-6.5), 3:30p
  • Louisville  v Auburn(-11) in Atlanta, 3:30p
  • ASU v Texas a+m(-3) in Houston, 7p
  • Texas @ Notre Dame(-9.5), 7:30p

Week 2

Oregon @ Michigan St, 8p – Just like last year this will be the first top 10 matchup of the year and it could be cray in East Lansing.  Also like last year the winner could have an inside track to the ‘offs.

LSU @ Mississippi St, 9:15p – Last year the bulldawgs took it to the Tigers in Death Valley.  Look for payback in Stark-Vegas.

Oklahoma @ Tennessee, 6p – Oklahoma is always over-rated and Tennessee has been on the comeback for 10years – someone has to break.  Could it be any different than OU duplicating last year’s 34-10 win?

  • Utah St @ Utah, 9p (Friday)
  • Houston @ Louisville, noon
  • Oregon St @ Michigan, noon
  • Notre Dame @ Virginia, 3:30p
  • Iowa @ Iowa St, 4:30p
  • Kentucky @ SCAR, 7:30p
  • Boise St @ BYU, 10:15p

Week 3

Auburn @ LSU, 3:30p – Another September SEC West battle that could decide the who goes to Atlanta.  LSU got whooped last year 41-7, but Auburn has not won in RED STICK since 1999 – too bad this game is not at night, where it belongs – either way FUQ Auburn!

Stanford @ USC, 8p – If the Trojans are the preseason pick to win the PAC 12 then they have to get by the Cardinal.  The last two meeting have been decided by a Trojan field goal.

Ole Miss @ Alabama, 9:15p – Revenge is a dish served….um….anyway Saban is 9-1 in these types of games since arriving in Tuscaloosa – we’ll know enough about both teams after this game and their prospects of being in Atlanta.

  • Clemson @ Louisville, 7:30p (Thursday)
  • Georgia Tech @ Notre Dame, 3:30p
  • Nebraska @ Miami, 3:30p
  • SCAR @ Georgia, 6p
  • TexasTech @ Arkansas, 7p
  • Cal @ Texas, 7:30p
  • BYU @ UCLA, 10:30p

Week 4

UCLA @ Arizona – If Arizona is the defending PAC 12 South champion then this game could see two undefeated teams meet in week 4 for the inside track.  Under Rich-Rod the ‘cats are 0-3 against the Bruins.

MissSt @ Auburn – Both teams could be licking their wounds after losses to LSU – or it could be an early SEC West triangle of nonsense.  MissSt has won the last two out of three – but at home, Auburn has won the last three.  Either way, so is life in the SEC West meat-grinder.

Tennessee @ Florida – remember when this game meant anything.  There are children who have been born, that have no idea what this meant.  If Tennessee is truly the dark-horse everyone is making them, they have to beat Florida.  For Florida’s Jim McElwain, it is a must win!

  •  Cincy @ Memphis, 7:30p (Thursday)
  • OklahomaSt @ Texas
  • BYU @ Michigan
  • Texas a+m @ Arkansas
  • USC @ ASU
  • Utah @ Oregon
  • GaTech @ Duke

Week 5

Alabama @ Georgia – this game will be a Running Back battle featuring ‘Bama’s Derrick Henry and UGA’s Nick Chubb.  The last time these two played in Athens – it was a funeral for Georgia in their “blackout” game, as Alabama took a 31-0 lead at halftime.  The final score was 41-30 and was never that close.

Notre Dame @ Clemson – Notre Dame has not been to Clemson since 1979, so expect a raucous crowd in Memorial Stadium.  It should provide plenty of fireworks if Deshaun Watson and Malik Zaire put on a show.

Texas @ TCU – the Horned Frogs took the Longhorns behind the woodshed last year, 48-10.  Charlie Strong needs this game or he could be finding himself on the hot seat.

  • Miami @ Cincy, 7:30p (Thursday)
  • Iowa @ Wisconsin
  • Ole Miss @ Florida
  • SCAR @ Mizzou
  • Arkansas @ Tennessee
  • ASU @ UCLA
  • West Virginia @ Oklahoma

Week 6

Oklahoma v Texas – the Red River Rivalry is still a spectacle – for Charlie Strong, many misgivings can be forgiven if the Longhorns take down the Sooners.  These teams have split the last 10 meetings and for Strong, it is a crucial two weeks.

Miami @ FSU – FSU has one of the easiest schedules – get by the ‘Canes and their next toughest opponent in September is @ Boston College.  Al Golden is 0-4 against FSU, but they do have Brad Kaaya.  Jimbo is a nice 5-0 against the Hurricanes.  The biggest question mark is who will be FSU’s QB for this game?

Wisconsin @ Nebraska – this has leader in the clubhouse for the winner, for the BIG (not)10 West Division.  Dominance is spelled B-U-C-K-Y – as the Badgers have won 3-of-the-last-4 meetings by an average of 35pts – but Wisconsin did lose their last trip to Lincoln…

  • Washington @ USC, 9p (Thursday)
  • GaTech @ Clemson
  • Arkansas @ Alabama
  • TCU @ KSTATE
  • Florida @ Mizzou
  • LSU @ SCAR
  • Georgia @ Tennessee

 

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3rd Stone from the Sun

There are many hard lessons to be learned from the “degenerate” experience, but the harshest one of them all is the difference between having Fun and being Smart.  It is the difference between Winning and Losing, on most days, and on Saturday the Final Four will be a lesson for fun-loving Losers.  It does not matter if you have Wisconsin or Michigan St winning it all.  Nor does it matter if you have Duke or Kentucky – the line for both games is 5 and if anyone tells you they know how it all plays out with certainty, well…you’ve been warned.

Saturday has never been kind or forgiving to these people.  They are taught all their lives that Saturday Night is when even idiots can cut loose and take risks that would be out of the question on any other night.  Get drunk, shoot guns, dance naked in public, or even crouch in your basement and hack into the NSA database…

If Sunday is the Lord’s day, then Saturday belongs to the devil.  It is the only night of the week when he gives out Free-passes to the Freak Show at the Too Much Fun Club.  Not everyone believes this, of course, and the doubters are not without wisdom.  However, it is no accident that Dog-Racing Tracks do phenomenal business on Saturday, or that people swarm into nightclubs and dance to a fevered beat.  Why not? At least they all have plenty of company…

Even the Jails become more crowded, and the lines are long at the neighborhood ATM.  Nobody feels guilty for things that happen on Saturday – not even the ones who fly off to Las Vegas and get married at Midnight by a Preacher who claims to be Elvis and fondles the bride while he talks.  What the hell, right?  It goes with the territory these days.  We are Modern People and we like to do Modern Things.  That is dangerous gibberish in some circles, and the “Degenerate Fraternity” is one of them.  There is nothing modern about doing dumb things for dumb reasons, and nothing new about the feelings of shame and disgrace that come down on people who think it is “Fun” to bet the outcome of Wrestlemania.

Or how much “Fun” it is to bet the Opening Day of baseball – who has the time or energy to breakdown spring-training games to evaluate whether or not the Rockies will avoid losing by more than 1.5 runs to the Brewers on Monday.  But, all that matters in the sports-gaming business is the score at the end of the day and winning at least 2 out of 3 – lest your wife files for divorce and strange men in black suits show up and kick down your door at night.

Take last night’s Suns v Warriors game as an example.  The first 47 minutes was not much to look at.  Kind of like that girl who doesn’t wear makeup and then suddenly decides to dress up and you can’t take your eyes off her in the last minute.  The Suns and Warriors traded leads in the last 26 seconds, 4 times.  Only to see Chef Curry bust a 3 – free salsa for everyone!  It’s a game like that, that is Fun to watch, a hospital stay to bet.


The Smart play, however, is that Steph Curry will be the MVP.  He’s the best player, on the best team, that could finish one loss shy of equaling the 95-96 Bulls and their 70-12 record.  The other guys? NO shot.  Except James Harden, he does deserve it.  The way he has scored 30+ points in a game 33 times.  The way he has had to lift his entire team, alone.  It’s impressive and it seems on a night-by-night basis both Harden and Curry trade metaphorical blows trying to knock the other guy out from the race.  It says something about the Warriors championship aspirations by continuing to grind out W’s when they don’t need them – their position is secured.  Jason Whitlock said on PTI yesterday, that watching the ballet between Curry and Harden was reminiscent of Ali/Frazier.  Harden being relentless, the power player that wants to punish you with drives to the basket.   While Curry is the Wizard that floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.  The parallels are spooky, and the Smart thing would be to see them matched up in the playoffs.

Let’s all have more Fun, and have faith in a government that reaches a nuclear framework with Iran as John Boehner sips Netanyahu-Jockstrap-Tea in Israel; accept that on the same day we remember the first Zombie, it will also be the death-a-versary of Kurt Cobain‘s murder-suicide 21 years ago; trust that Ken Griffey Jr doubled in his first at-bat against Dave Stewart today in 1989; regard the Pony Express debuted today in 1860; admit Jesse James was shot by that coward Robert Ford today in 1882; swallow that Annie Hall beat Star Wars for best picture today in 1978, and affirm the Unabomber was arrested today in 1996.  Sunday is the Lord’s day and we shall use it to reflect upon the final Saturday of college basketball, feast on Easter ham, and welcome the start of baseball – Amen, Hallelujah – where’s the aspirin?

Monday Dreg

Is this Kentucky? – andersiano.deviantart.com

Ball 1:

The Karmic-Wheel of Justice has two games remaining to rip out the hearts of big blue’s die-hard fans.  We told you how to beat Kentucky and Notre Dame gave it a shot, but something happened when Jerian Grant decided to not pass the ball on ND’s last 3 possessions.  Does it make a difference?  Who knows, but there is a case to be made for that kind of hero-ball costing a team a chance at victory.  Of course, maybe it’s just the (bad) luck of the Irish this year.  That’s twice, in two sports, the Fightin’ Irish have taken the number 1 team in the land to the wire, only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Now, we have the Final Four set and to be played in Indianapolis.  It will be interesting to see what kind of controversy is made or mentioned with Indiana’s new law.

For Kentucky to lose to Wisconsin, LSU gave you the formula:  Athletic big men who can rebound and start fast break points.  Wisconsin is averaging 80+ points per game and Wisconsin has to continue to make buckets from downtown.  Kaminsky gets the press, but Dekker has been the guy in the tournament and he has to continue to light it up.

When it comes to ‘Tucky, everyone has a plan until your punched in the mouth.  In this rematch it is size versus experience because both teams have talent.

What is it about Izzo‘s teams that seem to peak in the tournament.  If you saw them before the tournament, against quality opponents you would never believe they’d be in this position, and yet…

So how does Sparty beat Duke – they have to keep drinking whatever kool-aid they have been and hope the “magic” lasts.  Michigan State is the least talented team left, but might be the team that play together best.

For Duke they have to focus on Mich.St’s guards and shut them down.  Duke plays the most uptempo of anyone left and needs Winslow to keep doing what he’s doing, averaging: 14pts, 9.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, plus 1 block and 1 steal a game.

It’s been a long time, it seems that we have three really talented teams in the Final Four that all would be worthy champions – Saturday we shall see.


Ball 2:

Leave it to the sycophantic media, angry they don’t get enough of the jock-strap tea to slurp.  Dennis Dodd, member of the media, takes to twitter to flame Rodgers because…He has seats better than he does at the game?  Is allowed on the court?  Dating Olivia Munn?  Has hair?  Probably all of it and he brought up most of it in his twitter rant, only when Rodgers declined to be interviewed – as it was about Wisconsin making their second trip to the Final Four, in as many years, to play Kentucky again.  As you will see below – Dennis Dodd acted like a petulent child.  Aaron Rodgers does not need any more help in justifying his place on the court or in the stands, he did just fine by himself.  But why the outcry?  Where was it last year when he was in the stands, in the locker-room?  So what if he never went to Wisconsin (he went to Cal), he has worked in the state for over a decade.  Does that not earn him the right to support the local school they same way they support him?  As for Dodd, the irony is thick, coming from an entitled reporter who gets press passes to any event he wants – complaining on how Rodgers gets special treatment.  Dodd, He’s a NFL-MVP Quarterback and is dating an actress – welcome to ‘Murica!  Besides, how does Dodd justify himself being there – he’s a football writer and never went to Wisconsin either.

Rodgers took notice of Dodd’s manbaby tantrum and responded:


Ball 3:

We have 6 days until the season starts and in honor of that, here is what some high heat looks like.  So go out there, win your beer-league and get a good pitch to hit.  Opening Day around here is treated as a National Holiday – all you have to do is say the words and the room airs out, the light pours in.  No other day represents endless possibilities like Opening Day.  No scores yet, no losses, no blame or disappointment and no hangovers, until at least the game is over.  It’s a signal that the world is waking up from it’s cold slumber, to give way to longer, warmer days, worries as light as the clothes we wear and even the best part of the worst day is knowing it’s all going to be ok.


Ball 4 – take your base:

Only because Sportscenter had to talk about Wrestlemania XXXI last night.  Not sure how that fits within the sporting narative of the world-wide leader when the they just as easily could have opened with the season finale of The Walking Dead – It’s the same thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I have friends, actual grown-ups who watch and follow – and I myself have dallied in the male soap-opera.  But ESPN deserves a C’mon man.  It is not a sport.  A Sport is defined by me as something that is athletic and requires some sort of defense, or prevention of your opponent from scoring.  Chess is game that has defense but no athleticism.  Golf has neither.  Cycling is the worst, it has athleticism but no defense and is nothing more than what any 5yr old can do – except for enduring more pain than the other guy – and they can’t do that very well with all the blood-doping+drug use.  Wrestling it’s fun, it is athletic, however knowing the ending is predetermined, eliminates it – None of this takes away the joy you can find in any non-sport-endeavor.

There seemed to be a lot of surprises dropped this year providing salvation to a crazy week leading up to it – or so I hear – Rousey shows up with the Rock, etc – it appears to have been a blockbuster – I never knew that a guy could lose in another match – bring a briefcase to “buy-in” and steal the heavyweight title from the two guys who wearing killing each other to win.  Looks like I’ve got to watch RAW tonight to find out the DiRT.

  • Full WWE WrestleMania 31 results and winners…
    Seth Rollins defeated Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns in a Triple Threat Match to win the  WWE World Heavyweight Title
    John Cena defeated Rusev to win the WWE United States Title
    Daniel Bryan defeated Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth, Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, Stardust, and Bad News Barrett in a Ladder Match to win the WWE Intercontinental Title
    Triple H defeated Sting
    AJ Lee and Paige defeated The Bella Twins
    Randy Orton defeated Seth Rollins
    The Undertaker defeated Bray Wyatt
    The Big Show won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
    Cesaro and Tyson Kidd  defeated The Usos, Los Matadores, and Big E and Kofi Kingston in a Fatal 4 Way to retain the WWE Tag Team Titles

Monday Dregs

Nietzsche said, “out of chaos, comes order.” Or maybe he didn’t.  The infamous Howard Johnson of Rock-Ridge had quoted him, in a town meeting to discuss the new sheriff – so maybe it’s true.  But maybe chaos theory explains it just as well as Nietzsche – the more complex system, the faster and easier it breaks down.  That could apply to climate-change, governments and our bracket(s).  There is a morbid Bedouin proverb that says: “As the camel falls to its knees, more knives are drawn.”  A Proverb is a proverb because it speaks to a permanent truth…which may or may not be exactly how we felt when we saw what happened in the opening rounds.  All those 1 possession games, upsets…Seppuku

That is the word I was looking for when the Tigers of LSU missed 20 consecutive shots to lose the game against NC State.  There wasn’t much to expect this year, but to lose that way was a terrible shock to every fiber of my body.  It’s like your heart goes limp and the air is kicked out of your lungs for 20-30 seconds after seeing the final score and how it came to be – I fell sideways into a plate of tacos, like I was whacked in the head with a baseball bat.  Momentarily, I might have blacked out, but the room had already emptied except for two girls who were snickering at me as they walked out the door.  I was so swollen with shame that I felt like a fat kid after halloween – and that was when I thought about reaching for my gold-handled sword, as Dean Martin sang about kicks in the head  – it was the only honorable way out.  Just then I got a text message, taunting me and my thoughts moved from melancholy ceremony to vendetta.  A feeling I’m sure is shared with any fan of Virginia, Kansas, Iowa St or Villanova.

In our attempt to breakdown the bracket and build us all a better mousetrap – it appears we accomplished that.  If only we actually listened to what the tea leaves told us.  What we built, ended up getting 28 out of 32 correct on Thursday and Friday – 13 out of 16 for the weekend – that’s 84.4% overall!  Now if we had only listened to our own model…but that’s the trick isn’t it?  Just because you got UCLA correct and the system got it wrong – you blame the minor flaw for the whole – like Seinfeld and the numerous women he dumps because they are a low-talker, has man hands, or eats peas one at a time – and it all seems justifiable.  We chose poorly – the game is rigged, it knows you need the 12/5 upset, there was none.  It knows you have to find two #10 seed upsets and it gave one, Ohio St.  It counts on you selecting a #15 seed beating a #2 because the last 3 years it has happened, becoming a trend – but shuts that door on you as well.  Much like it knew the record of the #3 seeds, and yet the game crushed you with UAB over Iowa St (also a double-digit favorite), Georgia St over Baylor and almost gave you Northeastern over Notre Dame.  Only 3 times has 2 #14 seeds won a game in the same tournament – 1986 and 1995, and the last time a 12 did not beat a 5 was in 2007.  Hell, #8 seeds only win 53% of the time in the tournament the last 16 years and that did not stop all of them winning this year.  She’s a cruel mistress.

The system says Villanova and Virginia and your brain says they will fall – you know this, but when do you switch your faith in the design, to what is rationally dependent.  Is there any bigger set of teams that consistently choke away their chances more than Villanova and Kansas?  Of course you could be an entire state, like Texas, who failed to show up.  Even when the advice tells you to pick with the cruel logic over the bleeding heart, you still line up and get slaughtered.  The NCAA fattens us up so Vegas can eat well in the Spring.  But I digress, our bracket is hanging on and is tied with several other prognosticators having more final four teams than most and being the only one out of 8 that has Arizona and Duke in the title game.  If only we had listened to our own March-Madness Frankenstein – who says this is how the next round shakes out:

  • Notre Dame close
  • Wisconsin close
  • Kentucky
  • Arizona
  • Gonzaga
  • Louisville
  • Duke
  • Oklahoma

Further advancing Oklahoma over Louisville, Duke over Gonzaga, Arizona over Wisconsin and ‘Tucky over Notre Dame.

Aside from our DiRT Canon Analyzer, here are other “entertainment purposes only” trends in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8:

Sweet 16

  1. the Sweet 16 is usually where double digit seeds go down like a soccer player.  Better seeds have won 50 of the past 72 games SU (69%) the last nine years, but are only 29% ATS since 2012 (7-17)
  2. From 2003-2010 favorites of at least 5.5 were 22-1 SU in the Sweet 16.  However, 4 big upsets have occurred since: Arizona (+9.5) over Duke in 2011, Kentucky (+5.5) over Ohio St in 2011, Louisville (+5.5) over Michigan St in 2012 and Marquette (+5.5) over Miami in 2013.  These big favorites are only 17-18-1 ATS since 2003.
  3. Last year’s Sweet 16 featured six teams seeded 6th or worse, and three advanced to the Elite Eight, including #11 Dayton beating #10 Stanford.  That makes the lesser seed 8-2 SU and ATS (80%) in the last 10 situations when two teams seeded #6 or worse met in the Sweet 16. (none this year)
  4. Double-digit seeds are just 4-24 SU in the Sweet 16 round since 2003, with the only such win coming when #11 Dayton beat #10 Stanford, 82-72.  (UCLA is the only double digit seed remaining).
  5. In games where the total is 128 points or less, the UNDER is 14-5-1 (74%) since 1999.

Elite 8

  1. Since 1998, lesser seeds hold an overall advantage in the Elite 8, going 44-22-3 ATS (66%), including 3-0-1 in 2014.
  2. Lesser seeds in the Elite 8 had been 7-9 ATS (6-10 SU) from 2007-2010 before a 12-3-1 ATS run (11-5 SU) overthe past four tournaments with #8 Kentucky, #7 UConn and #2 Wisconsin all advancing as lesser seeds in 2014.
  3. Teams favored by 8+ points in this round have won 12 of the last 15 games, but are just 4-10-1 (29%).  Florida beat Dayton last year 62-52, giving up 10 points.
  4. When the difference in the seeds was five or more from 1998-2010, the better seeds were 12-1 SU, 4-8-1 ATS (33%).  But since then, #11 VCU beat #1 Kansas, #8 Butler beat #2 Florida, #8 Kentucky beat #2 Michigan and #9 Wichita St beat Ohio St.
  5. In games with the total is less than 145, the OVER has won 73% of the time (33-12).  However was just 1-3 last year with only Kentucky/Michigan surpassing the total.

continue to follow us @TheDiRTCanon for updates and sign up and win money with us on FanDuel+DraftKings – if you’ve been playing, you’d be up several hundreds of dollars from our suggestions last week, in just the $2 tournaments.  It’s been an amazing week of basketball both college and pro – regardless of what happens in Vegas – because we are all damn fine Americans!

 

 

 

2015 Bracket-ology Madness Locks of the Century of the Week

The idea behind our in-depth bracket, was several different combinations of formulas.  We intend to update the picks by round and to continue to offer those that might be good gambles to wager – for entertainment purposes only.  So to further help or confuse – here are some figures that we took into consideration:

  • Offensive Scoring 73% (11) averaged at least 77.0 PPG and finished among the Top 30 scoring teams in the nation. The only exceptions here were 2000 Michigan State, which averaged 74.1 PPG, 2011 UConn (72.4 PPG), 2013 Louisville (74.5 PPG) and 2014 UConn (71.9)
  • Offensive Shooting 73% (11) made at least 47% FG and ranked in the Top 30 in national FG percentage. Six of the teams ranked in the Top 10, including 2012 Kentucky (9th). But four of the previous five champions were below this mark — 2010 Duke, 2011 UConn, 2013 Louisville and 2014 UConn
  • Offensive Three-Point Shooting 73% (11) made at least 38% 3-pt FG, and all placed in the Top 40 in the nation in this category. 2002 Maryland was just below the mark (37.4%), but 2003 Syracuse (34.4%), 2011 UConn (32.9%) and 2013 Louisville (33.3%) weren’t close.
  • Defensive Scoring 67% (10) allowed fewer than 65.0 PPG. Of the five champions that allowed more than 65.0 PPG, four were ACC schools (2001 Duke, 2002 Maryland, 2005 and 2009 North Carolina).
  • Defensive Shooting 93% (14) allowed 41% FG or less with 2001 Duke just missing the cut at 41.6% FG. Five of these champions were among the Top 15 shooting defenses in the nation –2004 UConn ranked 1st, 2008 Kansas ranked 3rd, 2003 Syracuse ranked 5th, 2014 UConn ranked 8th and 2011 UConn ranked 11th.
  • Turnover Margin 80% (12) had a positive turnover margin (more takeaways than giveaways), but only 27% (4) were ranked among the nation’s Top 50 schools in this category. 2013 Louisville had the top mark here with a +5.8 TO margin, which ranked third in the nation. 2001 Duke had a strong +5.5 TO margin.
  • Double-digit favorites had been almost unbeatable over a three-year span from 2008 to 2010, going 44-1 SU & 26-16-3 ATS (62%). In the past five years (2010-14), the SU record was still 66-8

TRENDS BY SEED

  • #1 vs. #16: A #1 seed has never lost to a #16 seed outright in the NCAA Tournament. The #1s had covered 15 of 20 games (75%) from 2007-2011 with an average winning margin of approximately 30.0 PPG. But in the last three years, the #16s were 8-4 ATS, losing by just 15.6 PPG. The OVER was just 4-8 (33%) in 2011 to 2013, but 3-1 (75%) last season.
  • #2 vs. #15: No #2 seed had lost to a #15 outright from 2001-2011, but in the last three years Fla Gulf Coast (over Georgetown), Lehigh (over Duke) and Norfolk State (over Missouri) won outright as #15 seeds. In the past 10 years, the #15 owns a 53% ATS advantage (19-17-4). The UNDER was 0-4 in #2 vs. #15 matchups in ‘13, but was 4-0 in 2014.
  • #3 vs. #14: Even with #3 Duke losing to Mercer last year, the #3 seeds are still 29-3 SU and 20-11-1 ATS (65%) since 2007. Some of this is due to smaller spreads, with #3 seeds favored by a mere 9.5-point average since 2012 with just four of the 12 teams favored by more than 11 points. The UNDER is 20-12 (63%) in the past seven years and 32-16 (67%) dating back to 2003.
  • #4 vs. #13: The #4 seed is 28-8 SU and 21-14-1 ATS (60%) over the past eight tournaments. In 2013, #13 Harvard beat #4 New Mexico outright as a 10.5-point underdog.
  • #5 vs. #12: The #12 seed has gone 14-22 SU (39%) vs. the #5 seed from 2004-2012, but is 3-1 SU (75%) in each of the last two years. Seven #5 seeds were favored by three points or less from 2010 to 2014, including two last year (Cincinnati -3 Harvard, Saint Louis -3 NC State). “A” level conference teams are on an 8-4 SU & 9-2-1 ATS (82%) run on the #12 line, including 3-0 in 2013 (Oregon, California and Ole Miss).
  • #6 vs. #11: Even with the spreads in the last five years’ 6/11 games all 6.5 points or less, the #6 seeds went 8-11-1 ATS, with 10 of those losses also being SU defeats, including two last year. #6 seeds are now 20-16 SU & 16-19-1 ATS since ‘06.
  • #7 vs. #10: Eleven #10 seeds have won outright over the past six years, but #10 seeds are still just 21-30-1 ATS (41%) since 2002. The straight-up winner in the 7/10 matchup has covered the spread in 65 of 68 games since 1998.
  • #8 vs. #9: This series remains as close as one would expect at 34-30 in favor of the #8 seed in the past 16 years. The #8 seeds have a slight 31-30-3 ATS advantage. The OVER is usually the play in this matchup, with a strong 29- 23 record (58%) since 2002.

Funny thing about upsets – Of the 40 Round-of-64 upsets from 2005 to ’09, 24 occurred in the Friday games. The 2010-2011 tourneys had 10 lower seeded teams win on Thursday and just seven upsets on Friday, but the 2012-14 dances saw just 11 lower seeds advance on Thursday, and a whopping 17 upsets on Friday.

***

This is how our bracket shook out after the dust settled – if we did it right, we expect similar results to our overall success in college football – no one in the nation could beat us.

 

2015_bracket

 

Individual games to wager on – for entertainment purposes only:

Buffalo +4.5

Valpo +5

SF Austin +3.5

E. Wash +7.5

Davidson +2.5

If you want to tease a bet – go with this 12-team teaser with 9pts (+695):

UK -21

Notre Dame -3.5

Kansas -3

Wiscy -17

UNC -1.5

‘Zona -14

Oklahoma -4

Virginia -8

Duke -10.5

Iowa St -4.5

Gonzaga -8.5